Ever walked into a building and instantly felt unwell, only for the symptoms to disappear once you leave? If so, you may have experienced sick-building syndrome (SBS). This term might sound strange, but it’s a real issue that impacts the health and comfort of people in indoor environments worldwide. And the cause might be closer to home than you’d think.
Our air conditioning and heater installation technicians at EZ Air Conditioning and Heating explain what SBS is, how your HVAC system could contribute to it, and, most importantly, what you can do about it.
What Is SBS?
SBS is a condition where occupants of a building experience discomfort or health issues directly linked to the time spent in that building. Symptoms often include:
- Respiratory Issues. Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
- Skin Problems. Itchy or irritated skin, rashes, dryness, and redness.
- Neurological Symptoms. Headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and mental fatigue.
- Allergy-Like Symptoms. Sneezing, nasal congestion, watery or itchy eyes, and runny or stuffy nose.
- Gastrointestinal Issues. Nausea and digestive discomfort.
- Flu-Like Symptoms. Fever, chills, and muscle or joint pain.
The interesting part? These symptoms tend to lessen or disappear entirely once individuals leave the building.
One common cause of SBS is poor indoor air quality, often linked to building HVAC system issues. Your HVAC system can have a direct impact on the occurrence of SBS, especially if not properly maintained by a trusted AC and heater service professional.
What Causes SBS?
Several factors can contribute to SBS, including the following:
- Inadequate Ventilation. Insufficient fresh air exchange and inadequate ventilation can accumulate indoor pollutants. The lack of proper airflow can result in stagnant air and increased levels of contaminants, contributing to SBS.
- Chemical Contaminants From Indoor Sources. Poor indoor air quality can result from chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds, emitted by building materials, cleaning products, furniture, and office equipment. These chemical contaminants can trigger or exacerbate symptoms associated with SBS.
- Chemical Contaminants From Outdoor Sources. Outdoor air pollutants, such as car emissions, industrial activities, and environmental pollutants, can seep into buildings through ventilation systems and contribute to poor indoor air quality.
The Connection Between SBS and Your HVAC
The building’s air conditioning and heater installation not only should maintain a comfortable indoor temperature but also be responsible for controlling humidity levels, filtering out pollutants, and keeping the indoor air fresh and clean. If these functions aren’t working as they should, the quality of the air people inside the building can suffer, resulting in SBS.
Failure to service the heating and AC systems regularly can contribute to SBS. In addition to inadequate ventilation, neglecting these pieces of equipment can lead to the buildup of dust, mold, dander, and chemicals in the indoor air. Without proper indoor air quality control, individuals inside the building — tenants, employees, customers, etc. — may experience the symptoms of SBS described above.
That’s why you must work with a reputable contractor who can ensure the efficiency and performance of your commercial HVAC system. When you work with us, you get top-notch air conditioning and heater service that allows your investment to run smoothly and provide cleaner air. This, in turn, promotes a healthier indoor environment for everyone entering the building.
Prevention and Mitigation of SBS
Preventing SBS involves improving indoor air quality, meaning your HVAC system is crucial. Regular professional check-ups, proper ventilation, and effective humidity control can all help reduce the risk of SBS.
- Improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Improve your IAQ by regularly ventilating the building to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air. Install high-quality air filters and ensure they’re cleaned or replaced regularly. Limit the use of chemicals and use environmentally-friendly cleaning products. Control humidity levels to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
- Regular Maintenance. Work with a trusted air conditioning and heater repair technician who can conduct routine inspections for any signs of water damage, leaks, or damp areas. Fix any issues promptly to prevent the spread of mold and bacteria. Regularly get HVAC maintenance to ensure efficient operation. Don’t forget to inspect and clean air ducts to remove dust, debris, and potential allergens.
- Design and Layout. Something you might be overlooking is the building’s layout. Optimize the building’s design to promote efficient airflow and circulation. Use non-toxic building materials that do not emit harmful chemicals. Provide access to natural lighting and incorporate green spaces where possible. Design workstations and seating areas to provide sufficient space and ergonomic support.
- Educate and Communicate. Educate employees and building occupants about potential sources of indoor pollution and their effects on health. Encourage occupants to report any signs of discomfort or health issues promptly. Establish clear communication channels for reporting maintenance concerns and addressing occupant needs.
- Encourage Healthy Practices. Promote regular cleaning and sanitization of personal workspaces. Encourage employees to take breaks and get fresh air throughout the day. Provide access to clean drinking water and encourage proper hydration. Encourage your employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle through exercise and nutrition.
If SBS symptoms persist, consulting with an HVAC professional can be beneficial. They can thoroughly inspect your HVAC system and suggest suitable remediation steps to improve indoor air quality.
Call Us Today for Commercial HVAC Maintenance
Understanding SBS is important for everyone who spends significant time indoors, whether at home or work. With the proper knowledge and professional help, SBS can be prevented or mitigated, ensuring healthier, more comfortable indoor spaces.
Whether you need professional air conditioning or heater repair services in San Antonio, TX, EZ Air Conditioning and Heating is here to help. We prioritize your comfort and well-being, offering top-quality HVAC services to reduce the risk of Sick Building Syndrome. We’re a Carrier® Factory Authorized dealer and fully licensed, extensively trained, and qualified in all types of commercial equipment, so you can rest assured that we’ll turn your building into a healthy place. Contact us today at (210) 429-9186 to book a consultation. You can also reach us online and we’ll get back to you within the next business day.